From Playing Beethoven to Passing the Bar - The Benefits of Studying Music

Getting into position. Photo by R-M Arca.I don’t see what piano has to do with what I want to be when I grow up.”

In a pose of defiance, ten-year old Brittany made this statement at our first lesson together. Intrigued, I asked, “And what do you want to be when you grow up?” Her answer: a lawyer.

Some students study music because their parents want them to; while others are inspired by someone they know or have heard in performance. Regardless of the reason or musical instrument studied, the benefits of music study are the same. Here are just a few benefits, which I described to this aspiring lawyer that day:

Time and Project Management Skills: Whether she knows it or not, Brittany is learning to successfully balance her caseload: homework, extracurricular activities, social life and several aspects of music. By the time she passes the bar, she will be a pro at managing several cases at one time.

Analytical Skills: Students learn to identify patterns in their music and study its various forms. Whether a student grows up to dissect a criminal profile like Brittany or write a doctoral thesis on the translation study of James Joyce’s literary works like a friend of mine, these students will have finely honed their analytical skills.

Improved Academic Performance: Countless studies conclude that students who study music have significantly higher spatial-temporal abilities than their non-musical counterparts. The figure varies from 34% to 80% higher. Not surprisingly, music students shine in mathematics and the sciences. As adults, they excel as doctors, teachers, engineers and lawyers.

Enhanced Communication Skills: Music is a language in its own right, with its own symbols and syntax. According to Alberta Learning, studying a second language enhances a student’s communication skills and vocabulary in their primary language. Music students learn to convey emotions and imagery to audiences unfamiliar with “the language of music.” The result is more eloquent communicators, regardless of their line of work.

Develop Teamwork Skills: When musicians young and old perform with a choir, band or symphony, they learn to play in synch and blend into a cohesive unit. They must polish their listening skills and learn to work with different personalities and working styles. Hmmm…sounds like a typical office, doesn’t it?

One year later, Brittany doesn’t balk as much whenever I draw parallels between her songs and her career aspirations. It’s a complete turnaround from the person who wanted to walk out of our first lesson. These days, she just smiles knowingly and starts to play.

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Several years have passed since I've taught Brittany. However, the benefits of learning music remain constant. Here are a few more articles that go over other benefits to studying a musical instrument:

Twelve Benefits of Music Education

18 Benefits of Playing a Musical Instrument

Benefits of Music Education

Music "Tones the Brain", Improves Learning

Statistical Support Displaying the Benefits of Studying Music: Part 1 | Part 2

Originally published in the Somerset/Bridlewood Community Newsletter in 2004. Updated on March 28, 2013. All rights reserved by Rhona-Mae Arca.